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Risky Decision Making: Multi-Agency Working with Victims Experiencing High Risk Domestic Abuse

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Friday, April 24, 2020
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About This PhD Project

Project Description

Governments are concerned with reducing the rate of homicide as a consequence of domestic abuse, and this proposal seeks to support this aim. One approach to reducing domestic homicides has been the development of Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conferences (MARACs) to bring together key agencies to share information, assess the risks of serious abuse towards specific victims, and to develop safety plans to protect such individuals. Previous process evaluations of MARAC in England have highlighted the ambiguous and contested nature of how risk is constructed and understood within MARACs, and the implications of this for how professionals work together, and ultimately the plans made for promoting victim’s safety. Drawing upon the work of Beck, Goffman and Giddens, this study seeks to explore how the safety of victims of domestic abuse can be enhanced through an exploration of how risk is conceptualised within the practice of MARACs in Scotland. This will be a mixed methods study undertaken with Edinburgh Women’s Aid, a highly regarded third sector organisation, involving a secondary analysis of all referrals to the Edinburgh MARAC since its inception in 2013; non-participant observation of the Edinburgh MARAC meetings over a twelve month period; and interviews with key individuals who regularly attend the meetings. The study will draw upon the academic, research and professional literature in relation to how risk is constructed and used to inform practice, and the research design and analysis will be informed by discursive psychology. The study findings will support Scottish Government in their current decision making about how best to strengthen multi-agency working for individuals at the highest risk of experiencing domestic homicide, and the student will work closely with the multi-agency management group for Edinburgh MARAC and the Justice Directorate within Scottish Government.

Funding Notes

Applicants must meet the following eligibility criteria:
• A good first degree (at least 2:1), preferably with a social science component
• Demonstrate an interest in, and knowledge of the issue of domestic abuse
• Have a good grounding in research methods, particularly in relation to qualitative methodologies, and descriptive statistics
• Demonstrate an ability to work with people in different roles and organisations
• Demonstrate an ability to manage self and workload within competing deadlines
• Ability to communicate effectively orally, in writing and through social media for various audiences (e.g. academic publications, practitioners and policy-makers, users of services).

Students must meet ESRC eligibility criteria. ESRC eligibility information can be found here*:

Award Details:
The scholarship is available as a +3 or a 1+3 programme depending on prior research training. This will be assessed as part of the recruitment process. The programme will commence in September 2020. It includes:
• an annual maintenance grant at the RCUK rate
• fees at the standard Home rate
• students can also draw on a pooled Research Training Support Grant, usually up to a maximum of £750 per year

Applications will be ranked by a selection panel including a representative from Edinburgh Women’s Aid, and applicants will be notified if they have been shortlisted for interview by 8th May 2020. Interviews will take place on 26th May 2020.

All scholarship awards are subject to candidates successfully securing admission to a PhD programme within the University of Edinburgh. Successful scholarship applicants will be invited to apply for admission to the relevant PhD programme after they are selected for funding.

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